Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type



Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Ronald Bruzina


Heidegger was not always preoccupied, as he himself would later come to believe, with the question regarding the sense of being. Eight years before he published his magnum opus, Sein und Zeit, in 1927 he was totally devoted to finding a systematic way to bringing “life” as the ultimate source of meaning to explicate itself. In the years between 1919-1923, “life”, and not “being”, is the matter of philosophy par excellence, only to be disregarded, even refuted as a “proper” matter of philosophy in the subsequent years. In this paper I examine the philosophical motives that led Heidegger from life to being. The purpose of this project isto trace the emergence of the “thinking of being” in “life philosophy.” I will show that the transition from “life” to “being” is not at all as radical as Heidegger wants it to be whenever he voices his concerns about the metaphysical grounds of life philosophy. When “life” is understood in the exact terms in which Heidegger himself understands it in the years between 1919-1923 then, I argue, the transition to being is more a radicalization, and by no means an abandonment, of life philosophy. In the process of elaborating an understanding of life so fundamentally sympathetic to life that it can claim itself to be life’s own self-understanding, Heidegger comes gradually to realize the importance of life’s own way of living understandingly, the performative sense in which it [life] itself understands itself to be, for the very effort to understand life. Life is now interpreted as a way of being for which this very being, its way of being, is an issue for itself.

In the first chapter I go back to the original motives that led Heidegger to choose life, lived experience, as the proper topic of philosophy. It is here that Heidegger discovers that philosophy is ultimately about an entity that is somehow concerned with itself already in being-engaged to “something” other than itself. Intentionality is interpreted as the manner in which an entity is playing itself out, as it were, in engaging a world. In the second chapter, I follow his elaborations of this newly discovered topic, the “personal” character of experience, with a focus on the unique way in which he develops it by both rejecting the Neokantian approach to life and by critically appropriating Dilthey’s conception of lived experience. The third chapter presents Heidegger’s “insights” into life – which will remain unchanged, only put to different uses when the topic changes from life to being. The fourth chapter takes up the issue of how life is (and is itself)in being referred to its own past. Here I show how life is found to be “in need” to appropriate what it has been as the way in which it can be itself. Chapters five and six delve into the proper relation between living and philosophizing by focusing on how life is living-in-understanding. It is shown here how Heidegger elaborates, unfortunately insufficiently, his method of “formal indicators” which will enable him to interpret life as a “way of being.” Such interpretation leaves open the possibility, however, of either interpreting life as the manner in which being itself can be experienced or, as Heidegger does in the first early years, or interpreting being as the manner in which life can come to itself. Early Heidegger can only justify the former interpretation: in developing for itself a sense of being which can only be performed as a way in which life lives, life develops a genuine self-understanding.

Included in

Philosophy Commons



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